Children's participation in child protection—How do practitioners understand children's participation in practice?

A journal article outlining how practice differs from individual to individual, and is limited by time and by complex practice environments

Authors: Elise Woodman, Steven Roche, Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur

Children's participation is essential to achieve good outcomes for children involved in child protection systems. Despite this, research has consistently found children report low levels of participation, are poorly consulted and feel inadequately involved in decisions about their lives. The authors of this paper conducted 18 in-depth interviews with statutory child protection practitioners in Australia, exploring the ways practitioners understand children's participation. While practitioners acknowledged the rights of children and believe it is essential to hear directly from children about their needs and wishes to keep them safe, the concept of participation is understood in a variety of ways. Engaging child participation is dependent on the views and skills of individual workers, and hindered by limited time and complex environments where children's safety is a primary concern. Systemic changes to address time barriers, training practitioners to understand and implement participatory practice, and seeking children's input into service design, will support consistent and meaningful participation.

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